To work as a chemist, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- have at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry.
Education after high school
You need at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry for a job in research or as a laboratory technician. Some have a master's degree. If you get an advanced degree, your bachelor's degree can be in any area of science. For graduate study, however, you must enroll in a chemistry program. In these programs you study inorganic and organic chemistry, math, and computer science. You also learn to work in a lab and use computerized equipment.
You need a doctoral degree (PhD) to lead research projects or teach at a college or university. When working on a doctoral degree you focus on an area such as polymer or analytical chemistry.
Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in chemistry. Fewer offer master's and doctoral programs.
After completing a doctoral degree, some chemists work as postdoctoral fellows (postdocs). These university positions last for several years. Postdocs get experience working with other chemists. This research can lead to a teaching or research job at a university.
The military does not provide initial training in this field. However, the military may provide work experience to chemists who have a master's degree or higher.